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Confidence boost for Joe Nathan?

It wasn't a save situation, but after Joe Nathan's last appearance, did it matter?

Nathan was loose and ready and even after the Rangers scored a couple of runs late to make it a 6-2 game Saturday, manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux got Nathan into the game. And he looked ready. Pitching in front of fans that cheered him for years in Minnesota, Nathan gave up a few hits, but also struck out two and got out of the ninth without any damage done.

He didn't get a save for his efforts, but it has to be an important confidence builder. Both of the club's losses this season came with Nathan pitching, with the last coming on a blown save against the Mariners on Wednesday. Nathan got two days off and came in Saturday and had things working. He said he wanted to trust his fastball more and it appeared he was doing that.

The true test will be how he responds if given the chance to pitch in the second of back-to-back games. Both of his rocky outings came on the second of consecutive game opportunities for him. If the Rangers are in a save situation today, expect Nathan to get the ball. We'll see how he does.